One of my favourite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons has the young lad being soundly told off by his mother for a long list of misdemeanours at the end of which she exclaims despairingly, “I just don’t understand why do you do it” to which he replies, “Defective gene pool?”
Why do we behave as we do? Is it nature or nurture? Undoubtedly many things influence us. This can all seem slightly depressing suggesting as it does that our behaviour is somehow conditioned or predetermined by things beyond our control. What freedom do we have? Perhaps we can be free by working hard to rid ourselves from those things that would otherwise describe us – unless of course, that sense of striving is itself predetermined by nature or nurture!
If our behaviour and destiny are subtly dictated for us then we are neither free nor responsible.
Easter was last month and its message is about open futures; how God can surprise us and transform situations, even death, such that we can be free of anything that has previously described us. This month we celebrate Pentecost (AKA Whitsunday), the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all humankind, the power to transform us. And so we can be enabled to live free.
But freedom and responsibility are linked. Not only do we have to take responsibility for our actions when they are freely chosen, we also have to take responsibility for accepting the freedom that is offered us. It’s a big prayer to say, “come Holy Spirit” for we never know quite what future he might open for us and yet, surely that is life at its fullest?
PS I can be contacted at email@example.com or on 01892 862821 or at The Rectory, Southfields, Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 0PD.